Home   Medway   News   Article

Medway Council spends £26k on High Court legal challenge against Home Office rules on unaccompanied asylum seeking children

A council spent £26,000 funding a High Court legal challenge against the government.

Last month, Medway Council lost a Judicial Review it sought against the Home Office over the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) it would be required to look after.

Asylum seekers landing on the beach in Kent
Asylum seekers landing on the beach in Kent

The case at the Royal Courts of Justice was dismissed, but council leader Alan Jarrett (Con) said an appeal would be made.

Cllr Jarrett was then criticised by members of Medway Labour Group after he referred to UASC as "illegal immigrants" in a press release.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service made a Freedom of Information request to Medway Council asking how much had been spent in preparation for the case.

It said while the case had been dealt with by the council's internal legal service, it got support from an external counsel whose fees had totalled £21,456 inclusive of VAT.

However, Cllr Jarrett said the total cost was actually higher, at around £26,000. He also said the council will be formally making an application for its appeal by the end of this week.

Cllr Clive Johnson. Picture: Medway Council
Cllr Clive Johnson. Picture: Medway Council

He said: "This is forcing us to take more out-of-area placements and our average cost for out-of-area placements is £360,000 a year and as this argument has been going on for months, you can see it doesn't take long to save £26,000.

In response to the figures, Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour Group's spokesman for children's services, said he thought the council were wasting further taxpayers' money by seeking an appeal.

He said: "It is time that Cllr Jarrett recognises that his administration needs to step up and take its share of the care of these young people as other local authorities are.

"There is so much more that this money could have been better spent on, including the care of the children he seems to worry so little about."

Cllr Jarrett – who is stepping down following the council election in May – accused his opposite numbers of "putting Medway people last", adding: "It's a pity Labour are putting immigrants before Medway people because that's what this is all about, it's about putting Medway people first.

"We are having to send Medway people out of area at a huge cost because of the way the unaccompanied asylum seeking issue has been managed."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More